The spot that stands out for me in SoBro is Fat Dan's Deli. Dan describes the whole thing as "Comfort Chicago street food...think ballpark and street festival-good times- cold beers, music, food."
I'll admit that growing up in Northern Indiana and being raised on Chicago sports and Chicago food has me a little biased towards this local Indy joint that focuses on a plethora of Windy City eats and craft beers. The first time I walked into this restaurant on the northwest side of 54th and College I felt like I was at home.
The bar/dining area is quaint, cozy, and decked out with Chicago sports memorabilia and a couple large TV's. Dan told me its like "my basement that I've invited you to come to and hang out in. I take what I do personally, and take great pride in my food, the atmosphere we've created and our friends that enjoy our spot." During football season, this is one of the few spots in the city that exclusively shows Chicago Bears games with audio throughout the room. Not shockingly, I can be found there most NFL Sundays. The staff is friendly, fun, and incredibly engaging. Dan, himself, is one of the most genuinely nice guys that I've met in the restaurant business.
Since this is a beer blog, let's talk about the beer at Fat Dan's. They sport 10 draft lines and generally 2 of those are dedicated to nitro pouring. The nitro selections for my visit were Founders Dry Hopped American Pale Ale and Lefthand Milk Stout Nitro. There are 7 lines dedicated to a variety of local/regional/and national craft beers. Selecting brews for a place like this can be difficult but Dan has a philosophy, "We all like beer-we feel like we know what's good and if we like it, then a lot of other people will too. We like to rotate some of the local breweries and add regional crafts that other places around town don't know about or have on tap themselves..." I've visited this place multiple times and can tell you that the variety here is good enough to usually satisfy anyone. Featuring beers from Stone, DESTIHL, Fat Heads, Founders, Bells, Goose Island, Bier Brewery, Quaff On, and many, many more, you are sure to find something that will be more than satisfying. The last line, and the only constant beer always on tap, is that good old Chicago classic....Old Style. Growing up in Northern Indiana, I attended many Chicago Cubs games. As I attended those games as an adult, one of the best experiences is drinking that Old Style in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. There aren't many places in Indy where I can sit and watch a Cubs game and drink an Old Style. Being as big of a beer geek as I am, I can still tell you that I am not above an occasional Old Style for nostalgia purposes...and Fat Dan's gives me just what I need.
My most recent visit to Fat Dan's was fueled by my craving for an Italian Beef Sandwich, and to me Dan's beef is the best in the city. This succulent monstrosity of a sandwich is loaded with perfectly seasoned shredded beef, and topped with crisp, fresh, and spicy giardiniera. The meat is piled into the hearty Italian roll and the whole sandwich gets briefly submerged into a vat of au jus, which I fondly call "liquid glory". It's then wrapped in foil and presented to you on hefty parchment paper. No plates here folks. Simple, delicious, and satisfying. I generally order extra peppers on mine...as should you. Make sure you have a roll of paper towels next to you because this one can get messy.
But that's not all. Dan also has a variety of smoked food that is prepared in-house. Smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and my favorite...the chicken wings are just some of the things he cooks using all hickory wood for that authentic smoked flavor. I've added pictures of their menu...you are sure to find something you will enjoy. Dan has big plans for the future, " Any future plans related to food, beer, locations...etc. I want to expand this concept to different cities around the USA and in the Caribbean. I hope to have about 7-10 shops in cities like Denver, Austin, Charlotte, Seattle & NY. I'd like a location or two in maybe The Keys and/or Mexico/Bahamas...some place like that. I didn't set out to make a million bucks with this--I set out to make people happy...I believe if you make people happy and do what you do right each and every time, the money will follow."
Most craft beer geeks in the city visit Twenty Tap with regularity. If you have been in that area and haven't walked just a few paces north to Fat Dan's, you owe it to yourself to stroll in, belly up to the bar, and get yourself immersed in hearty cuisine and solid beer. They are celebrating their one year anniversary on 2/18 and if I know this place, they are sure to throw one heck of a party. And as always at Fat Dan's....hugs are free!
Thanks for reading!